Child Poverty and Hunger

PRE-PROPOSAL 1. Media Artifact

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

My Issue: Child Poverty and Hunger in the United States

  2. Persona and POV statement Persona:

Persona name: Madeline McIntyre Age: 4 School/occupation: Pre-Kindergarten Location: Holland, MI   Quote: "Mom! What's for dinner?"   About:
  • Lives with mom and older sister
  • Can’t wait to start school at Lakewood Elementary

  • Doesn't sleep well at night but is really tired during the day

Goals:
  • Read the same books as her older sister
  • Go grocery shopping alone
  • Learn how to make money 

 

POV Statement:
  • User 

    Madeline, an energetic and intelligent four year old…​

  • Need 

    ...needs to have better meals and nutrition throughout the day and on weekends...

  • Insight 

    … because her older sister is away at school, and her mother can not provide for her.

     
 

 

3. Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: Create a program that is mandated in all schools which provides students who are on free and reduced lunch with bags of lunch to take home at night/on the weekends. Many schools already so something of the sort, but nutrition and hunger don't stop when school is not going on. 

SOLUTION 2: Have free breakfast for siblings of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. Though providing free meals at school greatly benefits kids, those who are too young to attend school are often left out like my POV Madeline. Kids who are pre-kindergarten may not be getting the proper meals they need while their siblings do at school. 

SOLUTION 3: Create federally funded programs that are close to schools that provide free meals and snacks to kids who need it. Again, nutrition and hunger don't stop when school stops. These programs would be able to provide kids food on days that there aren't school (weekends, half-days, snow days, etc.) and also in the summer when school isn't going on. 

 

BACKGROUND AND RESEARCH PROCESS Context

Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

Michigan Bill No. 6072 loosely relates to my proposal because it deals with the distribution of food to kids who need it through a school district. The bill outlines the idea that schools with a free and reduced lunch rate of over 70% should provide free breakfast to all students which could be very benefical to learning and growth. This is filling in one of the gaps created by free and reduced lunch because kids can now be guaranteed breakfast if they need it. 

In addition to working to solve the main problem of poverty for school aged kids, this bill also works to solve one of the sub problems. By making lunch available and free to all students in a school with a free and reduced lunch rate of 70% or higher, a school leaves very little room for embarassment for kids who need to utilize the program. This is an effective way to help kids in high poverty areas because it does not single them out for not being able to afford breakfast as everyone in the school is getting free breakfast. 

This bill could be expanded to further help students, though, if it included a clause about providing food for free and reduced lunch students for weeknights and weekends. The idea that if a school has a high poverty rate, all of its students regardless of income receive benefits is huge. This would allow students to not be singled out, and providing after school snacks could be a good first step in allowing students to get the nutrition they need. 

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

This proposal will make a large difference in the lives of students ages k-12 who live in poverty in the state of Michigan. It will do so by giving them the opportunity to have good nutrition and acess to meals even when school is not going on. Providing kids with these resources is sure to help them grow both mentally and physically and set them up for success in the future. 

The main idea of this proposal is to provide students with food when they are not in school during the school year such as on weeknights and weekends. This would greatly benefit students who recieve free meals during the day but then have nothing to go home to after school and on the weekends. Providing these students with a bag dinner of some sort would give them the fuel they need to succeed both in the classroom and out. 

In short, this proposal would help students succeed. It aims to provide them with some of the most basic resources needed to prosper both in the real world and in school. Putting this into action would help kids all over the state of Michigan who are currently living in poverty. 

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

As a student at a large public school on the west side of the state, I saw first hand the effects of poverty on education. I watched many of my peers struggle and understood at a young age that not everyone had the same resources my family did. Many kids at my school were on a free and reduced lunch program which opened my eyes to its shortcomings. 

Through my years in my school district, I saw how poverty affected students' daily lives. It was very common for kids in my classes to fall asleep, not do their homework, and get poor grades on tests. Though this may seem like they simply weren't trying, all of these issues can be linked back to poverty. It was evident that many teachers worked to provide snacks for students who needed them, but there is an obvious lack in ability for teachers to provide for all students who need it. Implementing this program would allow students to get the nutrition they need and therefore help them succeed. 

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

My service activity has influenced my thinking about my proposal because it has changed the way I think about parents who live in poverty and raise their kids in poverty. Being able to volunteer at the hospital has opened my eyes to the love and care that almost all parents are willing to give to their children. Parents don't just not give their kids food because they don't want to; it most likely kills them to see their kids go hungry which is why I think it is so important for the government to try and help them out. The parents in the hospital all but gave up their lives for their kids when they needed it, and there isn't any reason to believe that people who live in poverty don't have that same love for their children. 

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue: 

Child Poverty and Hunger

 

Consultations

Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1: Elizabeth Fris; First grade teacher at Pine Creek Elementary in Holland, MI.

Elizabeth teaches 2nd grade at a very high poverty school in my old school district. I communicated with her through email about what she thinks about the problem and my ideas to solve it. In her response, she outlines one of the main problems with families in poverty is that parents are so focused on working to make sure the kids have a roof over their heads and clothes on their backs that food and nutrition often take the backseat. She also discussed how the stress of living in poverty can greatly hinder academic performance and concentration in school. She provided me with the follwing three real life examples of issues she has had in her classroom relating to food and hunger:

  • "Real life example that literally happened today:  I was working one on one with a student on math.  In the middle of a problem he started touching his stomach quite a bit.  It was apparent that he was quite distracted and learning was paused.  I asked him what was wrong, and he replied that he was hungry.  He got a snack and then I asked him what he would have for dinner when he got home.  He said maybe a peanut butter sandwich (that he would make, not his mom or dad or sibling).  Some of my kids rely on their afternoon snack before they go home."
  • "Another good example:  One of my kids has faced neglect and abuse.  He didn't know if he would go home and have food or water, or if they electricity would be on.  He no longer lives in this environment, which is good, but he still lives with it.  The other day he had a complete outburst over a snack and water.  The bottom line was that he was worried he wouldn't get a snack, which seems crazy to us because obviously there was enough food for him, but to him he had experienced not getting food so it was hard for him to process that.  I could go on and on about this child and the challenges he has faced because of poverty."
  • "Last example:  A single mom works 2 jobs.  My child has to be at a child care providers house by 6 every morning so mom can get to work.  By the time he gets to school he is exhausted.  His mom works all day, and most nights.  My second grader is reading at a end of kindergarten grade level.  I have to believe part of this is due to the fact that he has no one to read with him at home, or help him because his mom is focused on working trying to make ends meet."

Through her answers, I learned a lot about just how hard life can be for these kids. As a society, we need to be able to recognize and attempt to solve this problem.

CONSULTATION 2: Alex Ward Special Education Major at Michigan State University

I have been friends with Alex Ward since I was young, and I have always known her to have a passion for helping others. When she was in high school, she made the decision to become a special education teacher and has stuck with it for the past six years. I talked to Alex with the hopes of gaining insight into how poverty and hunger affect students with special needs specifically. 

To start with, I asked Alex how she believed hunger and poverty affected kids’ learning at the K-12 level. She brought up the idea of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; the idea that basic needs must be fulfilled in order for needs like self fulfillment to be met. Basic needs are things like food and water, and she hypothesized that without basic nutrition, there would be no way kids could perform to their potential because they would be so caught up on their lack of food. Without the lowest needs being met, there would be no way for higher learning to occur at the level it needed to.

When asked about the differences when it comes to kids with special needs, Alex talked about how these kids already need extra help when it comes to learning and reaching their potential, so adding the stressor and distractor of not enough food would hinder their progress even more. It is essential that all kids receive proper nutrition to meet their potential, but almost even more for those with special needs because they need that much more help.

When I asked her what she thought of my idea, Alex said she thought it was a good solution with only one problem: embarrassment. She recalled how in her high school some kids had shyed away from taking advantage of their free and reduced lunch because of potential ridicule from their peers, and she believes that this may be a small issue with my solution. There has to be a way to figure out how to help kids who need it but also not embarrass them or make it known that they are receiving help.

 

CONSULTATION 3: 

Lauri Sisson: former kindergarten teacher, education major, current advocate for children’s health

My mother, Lauri Sisson, is one of the most educated people I know on this topic. Through her job as a teacher and her multiple connections throughout the community, she has a very good understanding of this issue in my community and what is being done to solve it.

Though she agrees with the issue and thinks my idea is a good one, she also believes that there are some problems with it. To begin with, she agrees with Alex that embarrassment is a major issue stating that “It’s okay to send elementary aged kids home with bags of food because no one really cares, but once they get into middle school and high school it’s harder and harder for them to admit they need help and to be able to show that off publicly with a large brown paper bag. There needs to be a way to help them without embarrassing them.” In addition, she raised the idea that there needs to be some sort of cut off for who receives the benefits because it will cost a lot of money. She doesn’t know if all kids who receive free and reduced lunch should be able to get the benefits or just those who get free lunch. She also raised the question of what to do about kids who need it but aren’t on free and reduced lunch and how can teachers communicate that to the school and get funding for those kids.

All in all, she was very supportive of my idea, but she pointed out some of the major issues that come along with doing something so public and so costly.

 

 

Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.

One of the critiques I recieved from a Topic Coordinator was that the language in my proposal is a little confusing which could lead to a misunderstanding of my solution. In order to fix this, in my final draft I made sure to clarify all of my vocabulary so there is very little chance for misinterpretation. I worked to make sure that all of my variables were clearly defined such as when the kids would get food and what type of food they would get. It is very important to be specific in this situation because the quality of the food and when the food is obtained rests on it. In my final draft, I highlight the exact needs of a take home meal, and I discuss when kids are eligable to recieve these take home meals. 

 

Research process:

To begin my research, I first talked to some of the people who I respect and trust the most: my parents. Between the three of us, we brainstormed some ideas of how to address the problem of students not having proper nutrition or access to food to fill in the gaps of the free and reduced lunch plan. My mom, a former teacher, did a lot of volunteering for both me and my siblings where she saw programs taking place at the school to help those who needed it. After talking to my parents, I talked a lot with my friends from home and the people on my team to gain their thoughts on the issue. All of them shared my sentiment that something definitely can be done to help kids who need it. Then I moved on to talking to teachers who deal with students in poverty every day. They provided me insight into the idea that a better fed child would have more of a chance to succeed in school and in life than one who is not well fed.

After consulting with these people, I came up with some possible solutions to the problem. After diving further into my research process, however, I discovered that some aspects of my solutions were already in place. I did a lot of research on the Michigan Department of Education page which provides some information about the programs that are already in place in the state of Michigan. This did not deter me, however, as there is a lot of room for improvement in the area. Instead of working to find a whole new solution to child poverty, my main goal with this proposal is to fill in the gaps of the free and reduced lunch program, Nutrition and hunger don’t stop when school ends for the day and neither should the government’s support of kids who are going hungry.

One of the main issues I found with the free and reduced lunch program and the programs that the government has in place for kids who need food is that they aren't given enough food and they aren't given it enough. For example, at the end of a school day, if a school chooses to participate in the after school snack program, it is only required to give a student two food items, one of which could be a carton of milk or a juice box. A teenage student could be sent home after school with only a carton of milk and a half cup of yogurt to sustain them for the rest of the night. Not only is this not enough to keep a student awake and focused for the hours until dinner, it is definitely not enough to keep a student full if they are not getting any dinner at home. In order to help make students more successful both in the classroom and in life, there must be a way to provide them with food to keep them going even when school is not in session either at night or on the weekends. 

Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?

FORMAL PROPOSAL

The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.

WHEREAS.... About 21% of kids in the state of Michigan live in poverty compared to the 19% nationwide average

WHEREAS.... Students ages K-12 are not provided with any help with nutrition and hunger on the weekends and weeknights during the school year

WHEREAS.... Students who go to school hungry and don't have good nutrition are less likely to succeed in the classroom and in the real world

(Add more "Whereas" clauses if necessary.)

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED....

1. All public K-12 schools across the state be required by the government to provide take home meals and food for weeknights and weekends when school is in session

2. All public schools to make this program widely known and available to anyone who needs it including younger siblings

3. That the meals provided be substansial enough to be considered nutritious and a meal not just a snack. This means some sort of protein, grain, whole grain, fruit/vegetable, and milk. 

(Add more "Resolved" clauses if necessary.)

Counter-arguments:

What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. Programs like Kids Food Basket and Hand2Hand already solve most of this problem

2. The snacks provided by schools as "after school snacks" are subtantial enough for a meal

3. This is a problem that should be addressed at a local level inside of a district; there is no reason to mandate something that many communities already have. 

Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  

There are approximatly 446,000 kids living in poverty in the state of Michigan. I believe that the cost to provide kids with meals for nightime and on the weekends would be about 15 dollars a week per child. This means that the cost per week for a program like this would be about $6,690,000 which comes out to $240,840,000 per school year (36 weeks). This number is daunting. However, if every school was just required to participate in some sort of program, the costs would go way down due to groups like Kid's Food Basket and Hand2Hand which already are working to solve this problem. If schools partnered with local grocery stores too, I am sure the costs of the food provided would be much less. The funding in this proposal would have to come from cuts in other areas. However, as a state, investing in the next generation is the most valuable thing that we can do. People who would be opposed to this would be more people who hold more conservative beliefs and think that the schools and communities should handle this issue by themselves and no government involvement or spending is necessary. 

References:

https://www.michigan.gov/mde/0,4615,7-140-66254_50144-194517--,00.html

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2017-2018/billintroduced/House/pdf/2018-HIB-6072.pdf

https://www.michigan.gov/mde/0,4615,7-140-66254_50144---,00.html

https://h2hkids.org/

https://www.kidsfoodbasket.org/

https://www.michigan.gov/snyder/0,4668,7-277--321385--,00.html

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/budget/FY19_Exec_Budget_613184_7.pdf

https://www.aecf.org/resources/2018-kids-count-data-book/?gclid=CjwKCAjw6-_eBRBXEiwA-5zHaRoyCVe4IFB-m2ecNsyij__RRDlq-XE8agpdGKpvccIupFDrgPpA5RoCTGAQAvD_BwE



 

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Total votes: 18

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